Youth Ice Fishing Derby, Dog Sledding Set for Lake St. George State Park
January 7, 2010
Conservation

Gary Best, (207) 624-6076
Jeanne Curran, (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – The first winter event of the Maine state parks’ 75th anniversary year is the perfect opportunity for Maine residents and visitors to try some new wintertime activities, according to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) officials.

A fun-filled day of ice fishing for kids, with lots of prizes, and dog sledding for everybody will take place at Lake St. George State Park. This year marks the second year that “Youth Ice Fishing Derby” is being held, BPL officials said.

The event details are:

•Youth Ice Fishing Derby, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17, at Lake St. George State Park, Liberty, with dog sledding from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“This event was extremely popular last year and gave our park visitors a wonderful time,” Will Harris, BPL director, said. “Activities such as the ice fishing derby show that our Maine state parks can be fun and rewarding for families and friends for all four seasons.”

“It’s all about getting outside and having fun,” Gary Best, BPL assistant regional manager, said. “This year, in addition to ice fishing, we’re adding dog sledding. If you have never been on a dog sled, this is a great opportunity to go out with a registered Maine guide to go on a short dog-sled ride.”

One tantalizing tidbit to consider – Park Manager Leland Griffin recently caught a 3-pound salmon right on the lake site where the derby will be held, Best said.

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, under the Maine Department of Conservation, is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Maine state park system. The park system was established in 1935 with the formation of the State Park Commission by the Maine Legislature. The BPL now consists of 48 state parks and historic sites, including salt- and fresh-water beaches. A total of 12 of the parks have public campgrounds.

“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement around this event and the whole anniversary year,” Best said. “There will be an unprecedented number of events at all our state parks.”

The park official said there has been quite a bit of buzz about the event, with people already calling the park. One phone call came from as far away as Massachusetts, Best said.

The ice fishing derby held last year at Lake St. George proved to be very popular, with 150 people, including 92 children, taking part – even in the midst of the Maine blizzard that occurred that day. Best said the intent this year was to give park visitors the opportunity to try some new activities and appeal to all age groups. While the ice fishing derby is for kids only, everyone can try out the dog sledding. “Everyone can have fun together,” Best said.

Cost for the event is $1.50 for adults, ages 12-64, with kids and seniors free. As with last year’s event, youngsters will learn how to ice fish. All equipment will be provided, including bait, and event volunteers will even drill the holes in the ice. Kids will be able to win prizes for their participation, such as fishing gear and winter clothing.

A wintertime “full cook-out” of hot dogs and hamburgers is included in the fee, Best said. A warming hut also is provided.

The dog sledding is provided from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. by “Song in the Woods” guide service of Abbot. The suggested donation for a dog sled ride is $2 per person.

Community support for the event has been extensive, and Griffin has been a major organizer, “doing a heck of a job to make this happen,” Best said. Hannaford is generously providing the food; Poland Spring is providing water; and Wicked Joe Coffee is providing coffee, including its new grind created in honor of the 75th anniversary, “Maine State Park Blend.”

Many area stores are providing the prizes, and numerous community volunteers also are taking part. “We couldn’t do this without the strong community support and the support of our sponsors,” Best said. “Leland and I are very grateful for everything our co-workers and volunteers are doing.”

Like many of the state park events planned for this year, the ice fishing derby is intended to be” one of the best family-activity values in the state,” Best stressed.

“We want to provide a great family experience at a very reasonable cost that also emphasizes how much fun you can have in the wintertime at our state parks,” the assistant regional manager said. “These past months have been a tough time for everyone. What a great value this is for a family fun day!”

N.B. — Children who are Maine residents under the age of 16 don’t need a fishing license for the ice fishing derby. Non-resident children under the age of 12 also don’t require a fishing license. More information about Maine fishing licenses is available from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/fishing.htm

For more information about the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about all park events, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/park_events/Calendar.shtml